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A Specialz word from Cate Carter
UK - “The ethos at the heart of Specialz is the company’s completely open nature to a designer’s ideas and concepts. Backed up by a breadth of experience, skill and, what could be best described as industry savvy, Dave and his team offer a unique service to us as a client.” Cate Carter needs little introduction as one of busiest and most successful LDs over the last decade; her portfolio is long and illustrious with the likes of Editors and Ellie Goulding currently out on tour. Carter’s company, Bryte Design is a design production house run in conjunction with her business partner, lighting designer Mike Smith and visual producer Pablo Beckett. Even before the company’s inception, Carter had been employing the talents of Specialz to realise her design concepts.
“I think it was back in 2011 when we needed to adapt a piece that we rented for an Elbow tour. It had originally been made by Specialz so, on a recommendation, we went back to them and they did a magnificent job creating a chandelier from the original set piece. Since then we have returned time and again with a wide variety of projects, from backdrops to bespoke lighting fixtures and the huge metallic fan set pieces currently gracing the Editors’ stage, they have never let us down.”
The fans on Editors have enjoyed a significant re-imagining since their initial construction as Dave Smith explains: “We were originally commissioned to build six large fans. The intention was to use them for lighting effects with lamps positioned behind for rotating gobo-like effects and more fixtures in front to play onto a theatrical drape behind. Additionally, the fan frames themselves would have strobes built into the corners with some moving lights on top of each unit.
“Each fan was self-contained on castors and just needed to be wheeled into position and plugged in. The Fans gave the Editors a unique look for their European dates, achieving a truly theatrical feel. Technically, the fan mechanism was controlled with a DMX card capable of achieving speeds from extremely slow to quite spritely, including a forward and reverse setting. The steel framework and fan blades were given a distressed, rusty feel with the fan blades enclosed within a coarse steel mesh.
“The newly reimagined look for the fans offers Cate a whole new set of visual options; the blades now have a more reflective metallic surface with the frames juxtaposed in matt black, perfect for silhouetting looks.”
“My initial submission for Ellie Goulding couldn’t have been more different,” continues Carter. “We wanted to create a floor package that would work effectively in a festival environment where speed of set up is always a pressure. I also wanted Perspex panels mounted on the front of the frames; these complemented the scenic designs on the risers downstage. Pre-lamped and wired dollies were the way to go but, as always, the devil was in the detail.”
Specialz constructed dollies that housed SGM Strobes and rows of GLP X4 Bar 20s with a removable top row to allow for efficient truck loading. An essential part of the build was to ensure the pods were robust enough to withstand the rigours of roll on and off on uneven stage surfaces and rapid truck loading without losing their structure or integrity. “Quality of construction is a given with Specialz,” comments Carter. “Their eye for detail and a real recognition of what the dollies have to withstand is what sets them apart. Anything I have ever had from Specialz has worked just as well on the last date as it did on the first show.”
“We were careful to ensure the finished design would sit three across in a standard truck trailer.” adds Smith. “Samples of all the lighting fixtures were used to ensure a tight fit was achieved without comprising any fixture’s functionality. Everything was modelled in 3D and we employed some rather creative fixing solutions to make everything fit. A rear locker provided a cable store. We also ensured that the finished dollies were flexible enough to refit in the future if required.”
“The process with Specialz goes something like this,” concludes Carter. “We have an idea and an image of how we want something to look and what we want to be able to achieve with it. Nothing is ever ridiculed as silly or impossible! The collaborative effect is that we sometimes end quite a long way from where we started but the end result has never been less than perfect for the job. The Specialz team bring such a wealth of experience to the table. There is such an eye for those details that can often mean the difference between an end product that is OK and one that is brilliant – special, in fact!”
photos: Cate Carter
13th October 2017
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